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Old 01-21-2008, 01:58 PM   #1
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Default Apple wine/cider question

I just started my first batch of apple wine/cider. From what I've read, apple wine has sugar added, uses wine yeast, and has an ABV above 8%. Cider is made from fresh squeezed apples and cider yeast. I made something closer to wine but without the sugar. Orginally my plan was to make Edwort's Apfelwein, but at my local homebrew supply store they focus on beer and so he only had one variety of generic dry wine yeast available. I can't recall exactly what type, but it think it was Lavin EC-XXXX. I could have ordered the Montrachet online, but since other people have used all sorts of yeasts I thought this generic type couldn't be too bad. And I didn't want to wait for shipping. My next diversion from the recipe came when I was purchasing the apple juice. Since it appeared that most if not all of the bottled juice came from concentrate, I thought I'd just save some money and buy the concentrate instead. The only preservatives were ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and malic acid. And since I was using concentrate anyway, I decided to replace the 2lbs of dextrose with more apple concentrate. I ended up buying twenty 12 oz cans, mixing them in my carboy with warm water up to the 5 gallon mark, and adding the yeast. Its bubbling away nicely. I forgot to take an OG reading, but I calculated 1.075.
20 12 oz cans with SG 1.200 = 240*1.2 = 288.
640 oz (5 gallon total) - 240 oz concentrate = 400 oz water with SG=1.000
288+400= 688 / 640 oz = 1.075 OG.
Assuming I get a final gravity of 1.000, I'd have an ABV of 9.9%. So as you can see, my orginal plan to make Edwort's Apfelwein turned into something else entirely. I don't even know if this concoction will be drinkable. I've since read that many people avoid concentrate since it adds weird flavors. After 3 months I plan to carb and bottle it. If it doesn't taste very good, I'll likely use it to mix with Sprite or something. So, for those of you who have made something remotely similar, could this end up tasting alright? Should I go out and buy some dextrose and add it to the primary while its still just getting started? I should have done a bit more research before I dove headlong into my first batch of wine/cider, but I was just gung ho to get one started. $25 worth of ingredients, no big deal if it fails. I appreciate any feedback. Thanks.

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Old 01-21-2008, 02:21 PM   #2
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I've made a hard cider using the exact recipe you listed.

My reason for using concentrates was it meant that I could avoid a full boil, allowing me to cool everything quicker. (many don't bother to boil apple juice, so its probobly a poor reason).

I also used extra concentrate instead of sugar to bump up the OG. My thinking was that it would provide more "apple" flavor.

I then used a generic dry champagne yeast. Just because of the higher alchohol tolerance. Final gravity was very low- around .0990.

The verdict? I loved it, but not all of my friends did. It was EXTREMELY dry, and EXTREMELY tart. Had some off flavors at first, but all vanished after 6 months, and became one of the best ciders I've ever made.

So I would not worry. I'm sure it will be pretty good. If you don't like the tartness, I've also done well with a 50/50 mix of apple concentrate, and pear concentrate.

Honestly, its the yeast that makes all the difference, and differentiates an Apple Wine, from a New England Hard Cider. I've heard of great results from using yeasts designed for wheat ales as well.

nick

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Old 01-21-2008, 02:38 PM   #3
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Thanks a lot, Nick! That puts my mind at ease. I added extra concentrate instead of sugar for the same reason. They say sugar negatively affects the flavor of beer, so I figured it probably doesn't do anything great for wine either. I'll try to find a better yeast for my next batch. For now I'm going to try to forget about this concoction sitting in the back corner of my kitchen closet for the next few months. As long as I have a couple beers brewing at all times, I should be able to keep myself distracted...

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Old 01-21-2008, 03:12 PM   #4
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There is a GREAT thread here where sometime tried variations of the Apple wine recipe, but in smaller batches using all kinds of yeasts. Very interesting.

It will be tart. You could try a taste just before bottling, and if its too tart, you could always backsweeten with lactose, or splenda (plus whatever priming sugar) to offset the tartness.

Or... make your next batch sweeter (english style yeast?). Then mix them together in the glass...

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Old 01-21-2008, 04:55 PM   #5
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Great link, lots of things to try on my next batches. I suppose I could bottle it tart and then add sugar after I pour it into a glass. Just like coffee, one lump or two. Once I have a general consensus from my friends about how sweet they like it, then I would have something to shoot for when I backsweeten the next batch. Eh, three months before I have to worry about those details. I may even try my luck at a bit of applejack.... nevermind, thats illegal

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Old 01-21-2008, 05:06 PM   #6
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I make a lot of wines, and apple wine made out of juice is one of my favorites. I like it at about 12.5% ABV, and dry. (My recipe is in my recipe drop down under my avatar).

I use table sugar all the time for my wines- it doesn't do unpleasant things to wine as it does to beer. Malt and sugar together seem to make weird flavors, fruit juice (which is loaded with fructose) and sugar are fine. Even if it did impart a cidery flavor (and it doesn't), that's ok, if you're making cider! You can sweeten it before bottling if you want (by stabilizing first), or you can keep it tart and carbonate it. You can sweeten it with no-calorie sweeteners, if you want, too. You'll have lots of choices here.

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Old 01-21-2008, 06:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jumbo82
I may even try my luck at a bit of applejack.... nevermind, thats illegal
Is it illegal?

I think it was debated here before, and the conclusion is that making "ice beer" is a grey area.

There are some documents on the ATF.GOV website that say that freezing beer to boost alchohol levels is allowed, provided that it is within a certain percentage.

But its hard to tell on the atf.gov website if they are referring to just commercial brewers, or also homebrewers?

I guess if you are worried, it would be 100% legal to just add some vodka. That should not change the flavor...

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Old 01-22-2008, 12:02 AM   #8
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Reading through the other threads discussing freeze distillation, it appears that you can only legally remove 5% of the total volume, which is basically nothing. If I wanted more alcohol, I would rather add more fermentables than add vodka. Theoretically, if one were make applejack, I think their motivation would be more out of curiosity than anything. Of course, I doubt the AFT would raid someones home for a small quantity of applejack unless they were doing something really dumb like trying to sell it on ebay. Shouldn't be a problem for the average homebrewer. But just to be safe, if the Feds are reading this, I am NOT making applejack...

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Old 02-23-2008, 07:45 PM   #9
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Update. Last weekend I bottled up my apple wine. I tasted some at bottling time and thought it was bit on the "hot" side and very dry. My hydrometer broke the day before, so I was unable to take a F.G. reading. Assuming the F.G. was 0.990, the ABV would be 11.2% (calculated O.G. at 1.075 in original post). I ended up with sixteen 750 ml wine bottles and five 32 oz swing tops. The five swing tops I filled up last and added a little less than 1/4 cup of sugar to the bottling bucket to get a bit of carbonation. Last night SWMBO and I opened up one of the 32 oz swing tops to see how it was coming along. I must admit, I thought we would most likely have to mix it with sprite or something to drink it. It turned out to be surprisingly good! And I'm not talking about being just "drinkable", it was very tasty. It was similar to a white wine, with a hint of apple flavor. A slight yellow tint in appearance. Since we had just bottled the weekend before, it was only slightly carbonated (small bubbles could be seen on the inside of our glass). The small amount of remaining sugar was perfect. SWMBO didn't like the taste at bottling time, but last night she asked me to open another 32 oz bottle of this stuff! Its amazing what a tiny bit of sugar and a week of conditioning did. We drank both bottles at room temperature. Tonight we have company coming and we'll likely drink another bottle or two. I hope the sixteen wine bottles that we weren't able to carb will turn out decent, but if not then I could always re-bottle them in champaign bottles at a later date if needed. This is something that I definitely wouldn't mind making again. And it only cost me about $1 per bottle to make. I love this hobby.

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